Archive for January, 2012

A 2005 study released by Families and Work Institute, Overwork in America: When the Way We Work Becomes Too Much, reports that one in three American employees are chronically overworked, while 54 percent have felt overwhelmed at some time in the past month by how much work they had to complete.  The study of more than 1,000 wage and salaried employees identifies for the first time why being overworked and feeling overwhelmed have become so pervasive in the American workplace.

Here are 10 steps to take control over your life for a renewed YOU.

1)  Rekindle your passion.  Think about what ignites your passion.  Reflect on those times that you’ve burned the brightest – busy and excited, yet peaceful and harmonious.

2)  Learn how to orchestrate life’s many demands.  Learn how to spot when you have reached your limit and need to slow down; learn to prioritize, delegate and set boundaries.  Learn and practice strategies that help you to “work smarter, not harder,” for example, use the O.H.I.O. technique – only handle it once in reference to mail, e-mails, bills, etc.

3)  Focus on what you do best and stick with it.  Too often, people waste years trying to get good at what they’re bad at instead of trying to do what they’re good at.  Don’t try to do too much, or you will do nothing well.

4)  Get ahead by letting go . . . letting go is a good goal too. Families tend to add activities, but rarely subtract.  When you bring in something new, throw out something old.  Get rid of people and projects that drain you, while cultivating those that are replenishing.

5)  Take time to get organized . . . prioritize.  Plan how you use your time.  Create structures and systems in your life that help you get organized.

6)  Break out of solitary confinement.  “Partnerships are the intentional co-mingling of talents and energies, the giving of all each partner has to offer, for the reaching of a common goal and the mutual benefit of all concerned” quoted in (Richardson, 2000).

7)  Embrace change.  Change is a process, not an event.  Technology is one of the biggest changes we’ve seen in the last two decades.  Technology is both a blessing and a curse.  Learn how to use technology, rather than allowing it to use you, so that it improves your human connections, and does not replace them.

8)  Practice patience.  Patience is merely impatience stretched to its limits.

9)  Consciously and deliberately preserve time to connect with what matters most to you.  Preserve important connections.  Unless you consciously and deliberately preserve time for, family dinner, lunch with a friend, Sunday dinner at Grandma’s, or free time with your spouse, your connection with whatever it is will erode.  One way to put this into perspective is to calculate the number of Saturdays you have left in life.  Based on the life expectancy for your gender (74 for men and 79 for women), take that number, subtract your current age, and multiply by 52.  The end result is the number of Saturdays you have left in life (assuming you live to projected life expectancies)).  How do you want to spend your remaining Saturdays? The more time you give away, the less you have for what matters most to you.

10)  Seize the Day . . . Embrace the here and now.  The greatest damage from being too busy is that it prevents people from setting their own temperature, controlling their own lives.  It’s like the story of frogs in water.  If you put a frog in a pot of boiling water, he will try to jump out.  But if you put a frog in a pot of cold water and heat it up slowly, you will end up with a boiled frog.  Too often we don’t realize that the temperature is rising until it’s too late.  Enjoy each day as if it were your last.

You have a choice about your life.  You can either continue the ways things are and hope it gets better, or you can do something about it.  This will only happen if you take charge.  Taking charge can mobilize you with enthusiasm and visions for a renewed YOU.  It may involve risks, but don’t let the fear of risk keep you from exploring new horizons … turning dreams into realities … build a dream and the dream builds you.

Writer: Cindy Shuster, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension.


Boryesenko, J. (2001).  Inner peace for busy people: 52 strategies for transforming your life.  Carlsbad, California: Hay House, Inc.

Hallowell, M.D., E. (2006).  Crazy busy – overstretched, overbooked, and about to snap! Strategies for coping in a world gone ADD.  New York, New York: Ballantine Books.

LaRoche, L. (2000).  Life is short – wear your party pants: Ten simple truths that lead to an amazing life.  Carlsbad, California: Hay House, Inc.

Richardson, C. (2002).  Stand up for your life. New York, New York: The Free Press.

Richardson, C. (2000).  Life makeovers.  New York, New York:  Broadway Books.

Richardson, C. (1998).  Take time for your life.  New York, New York:  Broadway Books.


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It’s winter and hard to find fresh fruit at a reasonable price.  Do you choose canned, frozen or dried?  How do they match up nutritionally?

Canned, frozen and dried fruit can be a good alternative in the winter.  All provide good nutrition similar to fresh fruits.   Canned fruit can contain some nutrients that are more easily absorbed by the body.  Dried fruit is an easy portable snack.

Tips for buying canned, frozen and dried fruits:


  • Look for ‘packed in its own juice’ or ‘packed in fruit juice,’ or ‘unsweetened.’   If these are unavailable then choose ‘packed in light syrup.’
  • Use canned fruits immediately after opening to retain flavor and nutrients.  If not used immediately place in an airtight container and refrigerate or freeze.


  • Buy unsweetened.  Check the label under ingredients to see if any sweetener is added.
  • Once unfrozen use quickly or refrigerate leftovers.


  • Buy plain.  Check the label to see if sweeteners or other ingredients are added.
  • Keep your portions small as they are usually higher in calories.  A ¼ cup of dried raisins contains as many calories as ½ cup of fresh fruit.  Dried fruit contains lots of fiber, vitamins A and C, potassium and folate.
  • Add to salads, trail mix, pancakes, bread recipes, or a bowl of cereal.
  • Read labels as some dried fruit is preserved with sulfite, which can cause allergic reactions.

Try this Spinach Salad recipe which has some dried fruit and fresh apple.

1 bag of fresh Spinach, rinsed

1 green apple sliced thin

1 red apple sliced thin

1/2- cup dried cranberries

½ cup chopped pecans

Arrange pecans on a baking sheet.  Toast in 375⁰F oven for 5 minutes or until nuts begin to brown.  Cool.  Toss together spinach, apples, cranberries, and nuts.  Add your favorite dressing.  Enjoy.


American Dietetic Association Website http://eatright.org

Foster, J. & Zies, S. [2006].  Fruits and Vegetables Are a Convenience for Busy People, available at http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/5000/5302.html

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Sugar Alcohols

If you eat many foods that are labeled “no sugar added” or “sugar free”, you may wonder how foods can be sweet without having sugar as an ingredient.  Take a closer look at the ingredients listing on the food label of the package and see if any of these words are listed:  mannitol, xylitol, isomalt, sorbitol, or hydrogenated starch hydrolysates.  If one or more of these is listed, the product contains a sugar alcohol.  Sugar alcohols are found in plant products, including berries and fruit.  They don’t have as many calories as sucrose (table sugar) and they are not well absorbed.  Some people may experience a laxative effect if eaten in large quantities.


Many people with diabetes think that foods labeled as “sugar free” or “no sugar added” won’t affect their blood glucose and are safe to eat in large amounts.  Some people may overeat due to their belief that it’s safe to do so without having an effect on their blood sugar.  However, foods that contain sugar alcohols need to be included as part of a person with diabetes overall meal plan since they contain carbohydrates and calories.  Blood sugar may still be elevated due to the overconsumption of the product.

Be sure to read the ingredients label on the food package the next time you’re tempted to stock-up on “sugar free” or “dietetic” foods – it may not be as healthy as you think!  In addition, the Nutrition Facts label on the package will list the amount of grams of carbohydrate in the product.  Be sure to include this in your overall meal plan.

Contributed by:  Jennifer Even, Extension Educator, Hamilton County Extension.  Source:  Joslin Diabetes Center.

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Beautiful Winter Snow Scene

Wintertime…….. Snow, Skiing, Sledding, Ice and Survival
It is a new year and now is a good time to plan for an emergency. It is better to be ready for the winter or an emergency BEFORE it happens.  What should you include in your emergency kit?
According to www.ready.gov, a basic emergency supply kit should include the following items:
Water – one gallon of water per person per day for at least 3 days, for drinking and sanitation
Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
Battery-powered or and crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both
Flashlight and extra batteries
First aid kit
Whistle to signal for help
Dust masks to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
Manual can opener for food
Local maps
Cell phone with chargers, inverters or solar energy
Additional items may be needed if you have an infant or family member who is on a medication. Think about your family when planning your kit. Go to http://www.ready.gov/winter for more information. You will find additional ideas for your emergency kit.

Prepare for Winter    What about your car? 

If you live in an area where winter visits you, there are basic supplies that you need to put in your car.  In an emergency, it may just save your life.  Take a few minutes to gather these items and put them in a tote in your car.

  Winter Storm Survival Kit for Cars

Keep the following items in your car during the winter. Make sure you do not leave without them:

  • blankets/sleeping bags
  • high-calorie, non-perishable food (granola, nuts, candy bar)
  • flashlight with extra batteries
  • first aid kit
  • knife
  • extra clothing to keep dry
  • a large empty can and plastic cover with tissues and paper towels for sanitary purposes
  • a smaller can and water-proof matches to melt snow for drinking water;
  • sack of sand (or cat litter)
  • shovel
  • windshield scraper and brush
  • tool kit
  • tow rope
  • booster cables
  • water container
  • compass
  • road maps

Take these simple steps to Resolve to be Ready.  In an emergency, you will be glad you did!

Writer:  Michelle Treber, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension.

Sources: http://www.ready.gov/winter



Emergency Kit

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Never underestimate the power of a snack.  They have a major impact on a child’s diet.

Nutrition research supporting the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans is clear.  As Americans, we eat more calories than we need, without getting the needed nutrients. How does this happen? By eating foods that are high in calories and low in nutrients. The Dietary Guidelines and ChooseMyPlate.gov recommend that we consume foods higher in nutrients and lower in calories.

Snacks are important. A recent dietary survey of infants and toddlers found that snacks provided 25 percent of the total calories consumed by one- and two-year-olds. Typical snacks included milk, crackers, cookies, chips and fruit drinks. The research shows a similar trend for older children and adolescents.

The recommendations from MyPlate are to make half the plate fruits and vegetables, one-fourth whole grains, one-fourth lean protein and serve low-fat dairy foods.  This is true for children and adults.  Snacks are a great way to get more of the nutrients we need for good health, without getting more calories than we need.

Improving snacks can help improve overall eating patterns. Here are some snack ideas for a healthier family:

  • Keep fruit on the table and carrot and celery sticks visible in the refrigerator.
  • Set a good example. When kids see you enjoy fruits, vegetables and whole grains, they will too.
  • For snacks on the go, try apples, raisins, grapes, carrots, sliced vegetables and dip made with low-fat yogurt.
  • Try whole wheat bread with peanut butter, whole grain crackers with low-fat cheese, or whole grain popcorn or cereal mixed with nuts or raisins.
  • Keep less chips, candy, cookies and soda around. Instead, provide healthier convenience foods like berries, yogurt, bananas, carrots, broccoli or graham crackers.

Are healthy snacks available at school? Do you know what choices your children have not only in the school lunch program, but also in vending machines at school?  Let your school administration, Parent Teacher Organization, or school board know that you are interested in the food choices available to your children.

Prioritizing your family’s health can be a challenge. Being aware of what your family is snacking on is an important step toward improved nutritional health.  For more nutrition information go online to ChooseMyPlate.gov

Author:  Linnette Goard, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension.

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  Crock Pot Cooking

Wouldn’t it be great to walk into your home after a long day at work or school and smell dinner cooking?  Since most of us don’t have a fairy godmother who prepares meals for us, the next best thing might be your crock pot!

A crock pot has many benefits. It is convenient and saves time and money. You do have to be disciplined to plan ahead and spend some time in the morning or the night before preparing the crock pot meal. Raw ingredients must be kept refrigerated until they are put into the crock pot. Meat or poultry should be defrosted and vegetables should be cut into small pieces. You want to be sure that the water or stock in the pot almost covers the meat to ensure good heat transfer.

Don’t overload the pot – most crock pot recipes will tell you what size pot you should use. A general rule is to fill it about half full. You also should not lift the lid during the time your meal is cooking. The heat that has built up will be released every time you open it and it will slow the cooking time.

Some people worry about the safety of food prepared in a crock pot. A combination of direct heat, long cooking times and steam created from the tightly covered container combine to destroy bacteria and make the crock pot a safe food preparation alternative.

Another benefit of crock pot cooking is that it can improve the nutritional content of our food and the meal can be delicious. Less expensive cuts of meat become very tender from the long cooking time. By preparing the food yourself you can cut back on the amount of sodium in the recipe by using low sodium or sodium free broths.

Take good care of your crock pot. Some crock pots have removable stoneware liners that are dishwasher safe. If your crock pot requires hand washing, wash it right after cooking with hot water. Don’t ever pour cold water into stoneware that is hot – that may cause the pot to crack.

There are many sources of recipes for your crock pot. Most pots come with a cook book and online sources are plentiful.  As you become more familiar with crock pot cooking, you will be able to adapt family favorite meals to crock pot cooked meals!

Written by:  Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences,OhioStateUniversityExtension.


Eating Right with Your Slow Cooker, Purdue Extension.


Putting Your Crock Pot to Work, Universityof KentuckyCooperative Extension Service.www.ca.uky.edu/hes/fcs/factshts/FN-SSB.003.PDF

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lazy day

Do you ever feel like covering your head and just staying in bed?  This seems to be more common for many people during those long, cold, dark winter months.  So, before you decide to barricade yourself in the house and hide under the blankets let’s examine some hints that may help.

One of the best ways to beat those winter blues is with exercise.  According to Pamela Hatch, a licensed professional counselor and life coach, when you exercise you produce serotonin.  Serotonin is a feel-good chemical.  This is a powerful chemical in helping you feel better throughout the day.  Another important way to increase serotonin is spending time outside.  The sunlight will increase Vitamin D levels as well as serotonin, so a combination of exercising outdoors is really effective for increasing energy and feeling better.   At least 20 minutes of sun daily is best for improved health and mood.  Even if the sun is not shining, any light outdoors is better than none at all.  This could be as simple as walking the dog or going for a lunch time walk.exercising in the snow

Exercising is dreaded by many, so finding something you enjoy and making it a habit is important. Finding a comfortable place to exercise is a good place to start.  Some people prefer a class while others are happy on the treadmill or exercising alone.  Whatever you decide, make sure to set some short-term and long-term goals that you can realistically obtain.

Stretching ourselves to be more social is also important.  It is tempting to stay in the warm, comfortable, house, but being with others will help with positive thinking.  Be kinder to yourself– get out and interact with others.

Source:  Get  Up, Get Out, Pamela Hatch, Licensed Professional Counselor, Columbus, Ohio, December, 2011.

Author:  Liz Smith, Family and Consumer Science Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension.

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